Colleges dropping social media searches
In recent years, college admissions officers have perused the social media accounts of potential students, but a new survey by New York-based Kaplan Test Prep found that number is shrinking. Only 25 percent surveyed said they did so in 2018.
“(The number) went up consistently from 2008, when we started at 10 percent, and it peaked in 2015 at 40 percent,” said Yariv Alpher, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of research. “It went from 40 percent to 35 percent, and then 29, and now 25.”
The survey of admissions officers, now in its 15th year, has asked about social media for a decade and uncovered ever-changing attitudes. While 70 percent of students accept their social media as “fair game” in the admissions process, just 57 percent of admissions officers agree with that — down from 68 percent in 2017.
Alpher says the decrease in admission officers’ checking social media is due to a combination of students being more adept at using more private social networks — sometimes utilizing fake accounts that only friends are aware of and that aren’t easily traced — and generally being more careful with what they post.
Potential students may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief, but Alpher says not so fast; social media has always played the role of “unstructured data” in admissions. It might tell you more about an applicant with an art portfolio or history of social activism, but scores still hold more weight in admission decisions, he said.